Monday Mornings with Madison

The Accelerating Pace of Change in Business

Most people would agree that pace of change is accelerating.  Some would even say the pace of change has hastened to an alarming rate.  News travels seemingly at the speed of light.  Social media has accelerated the pace at which news hits and spreads virally across the globe.  Software updates are being issued even before the kinks are worked out of the previous version.  The next generation of smart phones is released scarcely before we’ve had a chance to even crack the glass on the previous device.  Transportation is also getting faster with high-speed trains and supersonic jets revolutionized the time it takes to get from point A to point B.  Medical advances are also being discovered more rapidly.  Seemingly daily, innovations in medicines, devices and therapies are being introduced that combat the most devastating illnesses.  And fashion no longer adjusts according to the seasons.  New styles are popping up in magazines, programs and window displays every week.  As soon as one trend gains traction, another look emerges pushing the previous one into design history. Continue reading

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Open Letter to Employers: Here are the Key Skills Your Customers Really Value from Your Staff

Attention employers everywhere (that means any organization that has people in any department, any profession, and at any level providing a service to others):   What comes to mind when you think about customer service? Patience.  Attentiveness.  Knowledge.  Positive attitude.  Cheerfulness.  Speed.  Accuracy.  Intuition.  Composure.  Flexibility.  Yes, these soft skills are important in delivering good customer service.  But they don’t top the list of the most critical customer service skills.  Whether it is in working with patients, clients or customers, the most successful people are those who consistently provide clear and complete communication, are genuinely compassionate, and demonstrate real kindness.  Being ‘likeable’ is also important.  That’s right:  Communication.  Compassion.  Kindness.  Likeability. Continue reading

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Cronyism: Problem or Perk?

When a company owner or someone in a position of power hires and promotes family members for choice jobs, it is called nepotism.  This type of favoritism is widespread and reluctantly accepted as the perks of those in positions of power.  But there is another form of favoritism that is also widespread:  cronyism.  However, cronyism is highly resented by employees and is often forbidden by employers.  Cronyism is providing friends and associates with jobs, positions of authority and special opportunities without regard to their qualifications and merit.  It really is a lot like nepotism, but for those who aren’t family members, just friends of those in power.  Unlike nepotism which is typically handled out in the open (i.e. father passes the helm to the son), cronyism is often handled covertly, probably because it is such a huge bone of contention. Continue reading

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Nepotism, Part 2

How Nepotism Undermines Companies

Nepotism can be found in practically every industry in the world, even in the highly competitive fields of construction, real estate and finance.  Billionaire real estate tycoon Donald Trump has always given his adult children special employment opportunities.  His son, Donald, Jr., age 35, is Executive Vice President of the privately-held Trump Organization.  His daughter, Ivanka, age 31, also works in her father’s organization.    His son Eric, age 29, is Executive Vice President of Development and Acquisitions.  It is doubtful that even the most exceptionally brilliant, well-educated and hard-working 29-year-old could land an EVP position at a billion dollar organization unless he was related to the owner.  In fact, Trump’s children openly admit that nepotism got them in the door, but also assert they’ve had to pull their weight after landing the job. Continue reading

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Nepotism, Part 1

Human Resources Affliction or Invaluable Talent Pipeline?

It was recently announced that 84-year-old media mogul Rupert Murdoch will be handing the leadership reigns of the 21st Century Fox / News Corp. media conglomerate to his son, James Murdoch.  As part of the reorganization, Fox COO Chase Carey will step down from his role.  James Murdoch got the appointment despite the 2011 revelation that News Corp’s News of the World reporters were hacking phones to get the scoop on stories.  At that time, News of the World, a U.K.-based newspaper, was managed by James Murdoch, who was called before British Parliament to answer questions about the matter.  News of the World closed shortly after the scandal.  The debacle did not affect James Murdoch’s selection to take over leadership of the media conglomerate from his father. Continue reading

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The Search for the “Right Fit”

Adding 280,000 jobs in May 2015, the U.S. unemployment rate now stands at 5.5% and we are seeing more people return to the workforce.  That’s below the average U.S. unemployment rate between 1948 until 2015 of 5.83%, and it’s about half of the all time highest national unemployment rate of 10.8% recorded in November 1982.  In fact, U.S. companies have hired over 200,000 employees every month in all but one of the last 15 consecutive months, and over four million new positions were filled since the start of 2014.  That’s a lot of hiring! Continue reading

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Equal, Fair and Equitable – Part 2

The world is not always a fair place.  Some people are born into money while others are born into poverty.  Some people are born healthy and others are born sickly.  Some people are just prettier or more charismatic or intelligent than others.  None of that seems fair. But it is human nature to want to impose a sense of justice in the world. Continue reading

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Equal, Fair and Equitable – Part 1

Currently, women outnumber men in U.S. college classrooms.  Women also outpace men in college completion in the U.S.  In fact, women now account for 60% of all Bachelor degree holders in the U.S.  Women also continue to increase their participation in the labor force.  This is great for businesses and even better for the nation’s economy.  However, while the Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires that men and women in the U.S. be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment, it seems that neither the educational level nor quantity of women in the workforce has resulted in ‘equal’ pay and opportunities for women.  The most common statistic cited is that women earn .78 cents for every dollar a man earns.  That is certainly not equal.  This disparity is pervasive from entry level positions all the way to the top.  According to CNN Money, 14.2% of the top five leadership positions at S&P Fortune 500 companies are held by women.  Of those 500 companies, just 24 have female CEOs (less than 5%).  And of the top 200 best paid CEOs in America in 2014, 13 were women (6.5%).  There weren’t any females among the top 10 best-paid CEOs, and only two women (Marissa Mayer at Yahoo and Martine Rothblatt at United Therapeutics) were among the top 50 best-paid CEOs.  Of those that did make it to the top spot, the average pay for the top female CEOs in the U.S. in 2014 was $20 million, 11.5% less than the $22.6 million for the overall average. Continue reading

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Intellectual Property: Are Your Brands, Products and Services Protected? – Part 3

Part 3:  Patent Protection

A hiccup treatment device.  A snake walking system.  Carry-out food containers.  Tiny umbrella for your drink.   A fireplace waterfall.  A wind-harnessing bicycle.  What do these things have in common?  These are all odd but real solutions to specific problems.  More importantly, besides being a little strange, they are also among the millions of inventions that have been patented since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) first started issuing patents in 1790.  A patent protects an invention the way a trademark protects a brand and a copyright protects creative property.  However, unlike trademarks and copyrights, which don’t need to be registered to be in effect, patents do require an application and approval to get patent protection. Continue reading

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Intellectual Property: Are Your Brands, Products and Services Protected? – Part 2

Part 2:  Copyright Protection

Anyone with a new invention or process must file for a patent in order to protect his or her ownership and use rights.  However, that is not so for new works of art, photos, pictures, songs, books, manuscripts, publications, plays, movies, and shows, among other things. For items of creative expression, copyright is automatic, meaning that nothing needs to be done to claim copyright protection. Although additional rights are provided if the work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, legal protection is guaranteed once a work is created – which is the day it is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” Continue reading

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